Premier League talking points: Man City momentum, Hojlund's hot streak, Wilder's woes

We pick out the big issues ahead of this weekend's English top-flight fixtures

Rasmus Hojlund celebrates after scoring Manchester United's opening goal in their 3-0 Premier League win over West Ham United at Old Trafford. AP
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Are Man City on way to four in a row?

The Manchester City run-in machine is gathering momentum and you get the distinct feeling Pep Guardiola's side are on the way to becoming the first team in English top-flight history to win four titles in a row.

Monday's 3-1 win against Brentford – that saw Phil Foden score the second hat-trick of his senior career – was their seventh consecutive victory since lifting the Fifa Club World Cup in late December.

They had Kevin de Bruyne and Erling Haaland together in the starting XI for the first time since the opening weekend win at Burnley back in August, while defender Manuel Akanji was also back on the bench after injury.

It means Guardiola has a full squad to choose from again as they head into Saturday's home game against Everton, a side who last defeated City the Premier League in 2017 and have not won in Manchester since 2010.

“I'm just trying to recover the people and prepare for Everton,” said Guardiola, whose team sit second in the table, two points behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand. “I never think about the run, just about winning the next game.”

More woe for Wilder?

These are grim days for Sheffield United and manager Chris Wilder.

The Blades sit at the foot of the table, a mammoth 10 points from safety with 15 games to go having secured the least wins (two) in the top-flight this season, scored the fewest goals (19) as well as conceding the most (59).

And following the Blades' recent 3-2 defeat against Crystal Palace, Wilder went on a sensational meltdown in his media interviews after revealing he confronted the referee in a post-match meeting.

“One of his assistants was eating a sandwich at the time, which I thought was a complete lack of respect,” fumed Wilder, who returned for his second spell at the club in December. “Hopefully he enjoyed his sandwich while he was talking to a Premier League manager.”

Alas for Wilder, the 'sandwich-gate' rant failed to inspire his team who were hammered 5-0 by Aston Villa days later, which saw home fans leave Bramall Lane in their thousands after four goals were conceded in the first 30 minutes.

Next up they face a trip to Luton Town who are fourth bottom but have scored four goals in each of their last two games against top-half sides Brighton and Newcastle.

Will Hojlund stay on goals trail?

After a tough start to his Manchester United career, £72 million summer signing Rasmus Hojlund is finally hitting a run of form in front of goal.

The striker's smart finish opened the scoring in United's 3-0 win over West Ham last weekend which made it five goals in six games across competitions for the 21-year-old Dane.

It also made Hojlund the youngest player to score in four consecutive Premier League appearances for the club, and he will be looking to make it five in five at Aston Villa on Sunday.

It took him 1,026 minutes before he grabbed his first Premier League goal – the winner in the 3-2 victory over Villa at Old Trafford on December 26.

“It has always been there, I have always believed in myself, it has just been about getting the rhythm going,” said Hojlund. “You get one goal, then two and get a bit of momentum.”

Can Richarlison continue hot-streak?

Another big-money striker rediscovering his goalscoring touch is Tottenham Hotspur's Richarlison. After a season blighted by injury, the Brazilian made it nine goals in his last eight league games when he grabbed a double in the draw at former club Everton last weekend.

The 26-year-old has struggled since moving from Merseyside to North London for £60 million in July 2022, scoring just twice in his first 39 league games – having notched 43 times in 135 matches for Everton.

Back in September, Richarlison said he was going to seek help from a psychologist in a bid to regain form, which he has done in style since returning from a groin operation.

And his recent goals run has been vital for Tottenham, who had lost the services of captain and top-scorer Son Heung-min to Asian Cup duty with South Korea.

“He's been great, Richy,” said Spurs manager Ange Postecoglou, whose team face Brighton at home on Saturday. “He worked really hard for the team and he is the one who deserves all the credit. There is more to come from him, he's working really hard to improve.”

How long has Hodgson got left at Palace?

Monday is a huge game for Roy Hodgson and Crystal Palace when they take on London rivals Chelsea at Selhurst Park.

Hodgson, 76, was reported to be close to losing his job following last week's 4-1 beating at rivals Brighton, a result that leaves the Eagles 14th in the table – having won just four times in their 17 league matches.

As if the result was not bad enough for Hodgson, the former England manager has come in for more fierce criticism over the 11-minute second-half appearance of Michael Olise.

The skilful winger was deemed not fit enough to start due to a hamstring problem only for Hodgson to bring him on at half time with the team already 3-0 down and the match seemingly lost.

Inevitably, Olise quickly broke down and is now expected to be out for up to two months. “They [medical staff] told me, and he told me, he was fine to be on the bench and play in the second half,” said Hodgson.

“Unfortunately, because I don’t have a crystal ball, I have no hindsight, I wasn’t to know that was to lead to him getting a recurrence of his injury, that’s exactly what we did.”

It remains to be seen whether Hodgson will be around to see Olise's return.

Updated: February 09, 2024, 2:46 AM